mom | fly a little higher book

some things just fit in perfectly.
i was recently contacted by Laura Sobiech regarding her book tour coming up.
who is Laura and why did her reaching out mean anything to me?
because of her son, Zach Sobiech, who i posted about last year.
Zach’s story moved me…it brought me to tears…it made me reflect and dig a little deeper, it brought me joy and hope, and it reminded me of my own trials.

Laura wanted me to read her new book, Fly a Little Higher, help spread the word about the book tour, and share how i relate to their story/cause/movement. i couldn’t say no.
cancer has made such an impact on my life and family – and i want it gone.
zach’s story still needs to be heard.
laura’s story needs to be shared.
we all have important stories – life experiences that connect us to complete strangers.
embrace it – share it.
i really want to encourage you to get this book, or to at least help spread the word.
lives can be changed – saved even.

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how has another’s battle with an illness had an impact on your life?

when i hear “illness” i think of my mom.
every time.
in case you didn’t know, my mother passed away of leukemia (10 years this december).
my days are torn between being used to this life without parents – not even thinking of it as not normal; other days are spent with questions in my head for them to answer, memories, pain, frustration, joy, sadness, happiness…etc.

…back to the question.
how did my mother’s illness/battle with cancer have an impact on my life?
how could it not?
i’m sure i could spend the next hundred years talking about how much it hurt, how challenging it was, how much i miss her; but i want to focus on the good towards the end of my mothers life, not the pain that caused her to leave this world.

during her illness, my mother held onto hope.
not hope that she would be healed – but hope that God’s plan far outweighed hers.
hope that her savior would bring comfort.
hope that others would come to know Jesus.
hope that healing of hearts would occur – not only cancer.

i’m sure she had reservations, frustrations, and worry.
but never fear.
my mother was not afraid of death – she told everyone so.
i only wish her fearlessness had been contageous.

i feel like i’m rambling…and i am; but when i start thinking of my mom, and her end of life story – so many things bleed into my mind.

my mom loved Jesus.
she shared Jesus.
she had a nurse named ruth.
during one of ruth’s shifts my mom asked her, “do you know the meaning of your name?”
ruth said that no, she didn’t – my mom told her to come back on her break if she wanted to learn about it. sure enough, ruth came back and my mom opened her Bible and read her the book of Ruth. my mom would walk into other patients rooms, with her iv poll trailing behind her, and ask how she could pray for them. she impacted so many lives that when she slipped into a coma and was moved to the ICU the nurses from the 8th floor would come during their breaks and before/after their shifts to visit with my mom and family.

so how did my mom’s illness impact my life?
it made me realize that nothing i face should ever draw me away from God.
that God is faithful, and brings peace.
that even in my suffering i can be joyful and invest in others.
my mom, whom i love and miss daily (as well as my dad), continues to inspire, encourage, discipline, and guide me.

just because someone is gone, doesn’t mean their legacy is not still living.

 
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Fly a Little Higher is written by Laura Sobiech, the mother of Zach Sobiech. Laura spent the last three years walking the road of cancer with her teenage son, Zach, and blogging about their battle with the disease. Zach wrote the song “Clouds” which hit #1 on iTunes the same week he passed away in May 2013.
Grab your copy HERE.
 
. . .
 
This post is part of the Fly a Little Higher Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of bloggers raising awareness and giving hope to those with cancer. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

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frankly friday | heavy heart – full mouth.

frankly…

my heart is heavy and my mouth is full.

>>><<<

brokenness does that to a person.
listen, i get it, it’s christmas time and the season is bright, and things are going to be alright.
but that isn’t me being really honest.
today marks 9 years that my mother passed.
nine. years. 
i’ve posted about the start of that morning before – and it really isn’t something i want to get into right now…but i will say that today – i miss my mom.

>>><<<

but that isn’t the only reason i’m broken today – no it most certainly is not the only reason.
my heart is heavy and my mouth is full.
and if we look into the depths of our souls we all see something:
sin runs deep.
really deep.
a few months ago i shed some light on this subject.
& i was received with a resounding: you are not alone amy – you are not alone.
man do i need to hear that again today.

this world gets nasty quick.
it gets dirty, grimy, and just down right filthy.
it also breeds temptation that tastes all too delicious.
we get used to the scandal – to the drawl – we get pulled to the bed that is our tempter.
is that a little spicy, well yes, but it is also the truth.
sin is delicious.
disgusting, makes you sick, and spreads like cancer, but also delicious.
because we keep going back for more.

man, sin runs deep

i think far too often i ask the Lord for forgiveness but forget that there is still work that i need to do.
does God forgive me – a thousands times yes.
He continues to forgive me.
yet i still say yes to satans lies – and fall into the traps of his temptation.
because i want to.
if i didn’t want to – i wouldn’t.
hmm…
…that’s like a kick in the face.
i choose the sin – the sin didn’t choose me.
so when i feel convicted – guilty – run down and empty without God…
…and i go to Him for fulfillment, forgiveness, mercy and grace…i’m restored.
but that is never the end of the road.

what is the point of redemption and restoration if you’re not willing to change?
am i willing to change? 
i would hope so.
yes – yes i would say i am willing to change.
am i willing to give up those delicious temptations? 
this is where it gets tricky.

>>><<<

i think this is where it gets tricky for everyone in general – but especially for Christians who have walked with Jesus for more than a few seasons.
we know Jesus. we are saved. we trust in our salvation. and we get complacent.
we see the “little sins” (no such thing) as no big deals – and well the “bigger sins” (sin is sin) as something to just avoid talking about so we can relish in it. or if we’re in a good season of our walk with God we seek out accountability to get rid of it.
so the slippery slope begins.
we love Jesus.
we crave the sin.
we love following God’s Word.
we crave feeling desired & the temptation gives us that.

man, sin runs deep.

so i’m here to tell y’all confess that i’m a sinner.
i mess up.
i struggle – struggle like you wouldn’t believe.
i make mistakes all the time – and not little mistakes but big ones that will have consequences.
i’m not perfect.
i judge.
i curse.
i say things behind others back.
i fall into the trap of lust.
i enjoy really bad comedy.
i – mess – up.

but God loves me.
i have no idea why He does.
but He loves me – without limits, unconditionally, immeasurably.
when i’m a broken mess on the floor – He gets on His knees before me and collects me.

He restores me.
moves me.
changes me.
directs me.
instructs me.
disciplines me.
man – He loves me. 

remember how i said my heart is heavy and my mouth is full?
…its true, they are.
my heart is heavy with sin – with distrust, greed, lust, and bitterness. it is also heavy with joy, love, compassion, salvation, and truth.
my mouth is full of lies, spite, malice, and fear. it is also full of encouragement, blessings, prayers, and restoration.

it’s all about allowing God to work through my mess and get me back on solid ground. 
dear Lord i want to be back on solid ground.

>>>><<<<
if you’ve had a post this week that was rather frank – link up below. 

also if you missed the fiction posted yesterday – give it a read.

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September 17 – a memory you would love to relive.

a memory you would love to relive… {there are so many}

The air in the house was stifling.
July was bleeding into August with a fiery haze.
Windows were open, ceiling fans cranked high, glasses of iced water littered the kitchen table.
I walked into the den to find my father laying on the ground in his shorts with his arms splayed out, a stack of cds leaning at his feet, listening to some classic rock.
What are you doing dad?
He patted the carpet next to him. I laid down, splayed my arms out, and listened to the guitar solos with him. Do you know who the bassist in this band is? he asked. He always asked this; or the drummer, guitarist, lead singer. It was a running game – if we guessed right he would buy us a SoBe at our next gas station visit. I don’t know…i replied. He laughed and explained the guys talent and what the background of the band was.
At some point in this conversation my brother had walked into the room and laid down opposite of me with his head butting up against mine. The three of us laid there for a song more when mom walked in.
I wondered where y’all went, i should have known we would take a music break.
We were supposed to be cleaning.
She laid down with us and listened to the music.
There we were, a family, listening to music, building faint memories.

. . .

RUMMY!
Dang it all, Jennifer won again. She always won…i think she was cheating. It was summer time and we were at our family beach house for the week. Sand still wedged in between my toes even though the sun had set long before. My cousins surrounded our table with decks of cards sprawled out in front of us. Another round? Jonathan asked. It was already after 1am and past a few of our bedtimes; but this is what we did during the summer – got sunburned, played rummy, ate too many bags of chips, went ghost crab hunting, played bingo, and built memories. We heard one of our parents slip out of their room and stand in front of us, Do y’all know what time it is? ….just one more game! Someone has to beat jennifer! The score sheet showed that she was a solid 50 points ahead of all of us. I looked around the table, jennifer, jonathan, jason, jade, ty, and bo, and a friend or two scattered throughout. This was so fun, staying up late – playing cards – getting frustrated – laughing. My hand closed around my sweet tea glass, condensation dripping between my fingers, i need a refill, anyone else? Everyone else needed a refill, as always … grandma’s sweet tea was just too good.

. . .
joining jenni today for her blogtember challenge.


{etsy crushes link-up tomorrow}
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September 10…Life Changing Moment.

Q: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn…{i have 2}


It was really hot for the middle of July – like really hot.
Mom was at work, my brother and cousin Jade were at the neighborhood pool behind my house. I was sitting in the lazy boy recliner with the tv on eating a big ol’ bowl of ice cream…something I was not supposed to be doing. I heart the front door open – crap mom is home early – I stashed my bowl beside the recliner where it couldn’t be seen, I really didn’t want a lecture. I heard two sets of heels, my mom walked into the den followed by my aunt darlene. “Amy, where are Bo & Jade?” …uhhh down at the pool? i answered. “Go get them please”. I thought i was in more trouble than just sneaking ice cream. what have I done now? I thought as I walked down to the pool.
I got Bo & Jade to come back up to the house – they kept asking me what was happening…I didn’t know, I couldn’t answer. When we got back to the house, Aunt Darlene held jades hand and pulled her to the living room – mom took me and Bo back to her & my fathers room. At this point my parents had been separated for a small season – trying to work some things out together while needing some space to do it, it was a complicated situation. Mom sat down on her bed and put her head in her hands, she took a few deep breathes. I remember her sitting up straighter – looking back now I could only imagine her trying to gain some courage and strengthen her spine to deliver the news. We sat in front of her, Indian style, and just looked at each other. What was going on? Mom took our hands in hers and said “You know I love you…you know Jesus loves you…and you know your daddy loved you…” I was only 13 at the time but I was old enough to pick up on that one small letter…that ‘d’ that changed a word from present to past tense.
She said loved not love.
“Your daddy has gone to be with Jesus – he is in Jesus’ arms.” I remember Bo busted out in to tears; at 9 years old not fully understanding what that meant, but knowing enough to know that Jesus is in Heaven…and that is where Dad must be too now. I sat there for a minute just looking at my mom – stunned, not fully understanding…not really wanting to understand. Does this mean I’m fatherless? Where is my dad? He just wanted to see me a few days ago…but I wanted to hang out with my girlfriends.
The tears came slowly.
I was 13 years old – less than a month from starting high school – and I was now without a father.
Mom had been sick for over 6 months now.
I hated cancer – leukemia.
The summer and fall had consisted of hospital visits, phone calls, and a brief season where she was home for two weeks. I was living with my aunt & uncle some days/weeks and others I was living at home – too anxiety ridden to be away from what was comfortable to me, what was my normal. My grandmother (mom’s mom) stayed with my mom every. single. day while she was in the hospital and my grandfather stayed with me most nights (some other family members/friends stayed other nights). Some nights I remember going to sleep to the sound of an empty house…hearing my own heart beat…wondering what was next. The night before I was at youth group. We prayed for my mom. All of my friends and youth leaders surrounded me, laying their hands on me, prayed for me, my family, my mother. At one point my friend Niki said, “God, if Mrs. Donna is meant to be with you…then that’s ok, she can go be with you.” I remember being furious with Niki, how could she say that…that was like wishing my mom to die. My friend Andrew prayed something similar…I was still angry.
That night I was laying in bed, my next door neighbor aunt Gayle was staying with me that night (my brother had been living with my aunt and uncle), and I prayed to God. I finally understood what He had been pressing on my heart. You see, I was down to one parent – my mom – she was in the hospital for my 16th birthday, promising a “blowout 17th” for the next year. She still heckled me to clean my room…and do dishes, and learn how to cook something other than mac and cheese from a box. She still talked to me about Jesus and asked how school was going – how was I doing with my grades – all while she was confined to a hospital bed.
At this point mom had been in a coma in the ICU for about a month…I hadn’t seen her. I had the choice, but my family warned me that she didn’t look like herself. She had put on a lot of water weight (my mom was a petit 5’3 115lb woman), her eyes had gone from brown to blue, she had lost her hair a long time ago…my mother wasn’t herself. So I didn’t go, I didn’t want to see her like that at age 16.
As I was thinking about all of that, I whispered some words to Jesus.
Jesus…I’m ok if you take my mom.
I don’t want her to be in pain anymore, if she will be better with you in Heaven – then I’m ok with it, I won’t like it, I’ll miss her….I really want her to stay with me and Bo…but I’ll be ok.
I fell asleep.
.
Hands were on my shoulders, my body was slowly being shaken awake, “Amy, wake up”.
My eyelids peeled open, my bedside table lamp was on.
My grandmother was sitting at my side. As my eyes adjusted I looked around my room – Aunt Darlene, Aunt Diane, Aunt Debbie, grandma…my Aunt Darlenes eyes gave it away; she had the same eyes when she walked in with my mother to tell me my father had passed away. My grandmother opened her mouth, “Amy, your mother went to be with Jesus, she is in Jesus’ arms…” I remember becoming fascinated with the popcorn ceiling in my room. “Mom, do you think she heard us?” …one of my aunts said.  “I’m an orphan?” I said out-loud. They all started crying – I started crying. Where is Bo? does he know yet? They told me he was at my aunts house – still sleeping – it was 3am and they were trying to let him sleep some more but they wanted me to know, to wake up. I went out into the den where my grandfather was sobbing, my aunt gayle and uncle dave were crying, my moms boyfriend was there in pieces. I remember going back to my room, sitting on my bed, and being silent for a long time – thinking I’m only 16, what do I do now? I remember 530am rolling around and my friend Ashlee calling to see if was running late or on time since I was her and kaylees ride to school. I told her I wasn’t going – she asked why – because my mom died. She started crying – asking if I wanted her to come over, no, not right now…but thank you. They came over later as did many other friends and family. I won’t go into detail today about when we told my brother later that morning – but that was almost as hard as hearing I was parentless.

Tragedy happens.
Joy happens.
You learn from both.
I’ve learned from both.
I miss my parents – every. single. day.
Some days are easier than others – some days harder than others.
I find solace in the fact that God knows more than I do.
His plans are greater than my own.
And glory was brought to Him through their passings…people heard the Gospel through their lives.
Jesus was preached.
I’m sure people were saved – or put on the road to salvation.
I’ve trusted in God through all of this – I will continue to trust in Him.


Joining jenni today for her blogtember challenge.


Frankly Friday…v15


 What is Frankly Friday? 

Let’s define Frankly shall we…

frankly |ˈfra ng klē|adverbin an open, honest, and direct manner
. . .
I want this to be a way for all of us to be open, raw, and transparent with not only each other…but with ourselves. I think we put a lot of stock into the “fear” of what others may think of us…into the “fear” of really putting what’s on your heart out there in case someone decides to tear you down.
I’m over the fear & you should be too.
So let’s write…whether it’s about a situation you’re struggling through, a victory you’ve made, a memory that you can’t let go of…anything as long as it’s honest.
. . .

Frankly…
{prepare, this is heavy}
Yesterday was a haze…wanna know why?
It was 8 years since my mom passed away.
{ & It has been 10 years since my father passed away (this past July).}

If i’m honest…most days i’m not fully aware that i don’t have parents…i guess i’ve gotten used to it.
I had parents, and they were amazing and i miss them all of the time; but i’m used to this life now.
Over the last few years their ‘death days’ will come and go and i sometimes don’t even fully realize what the day is…other times i’m fully aware of what the day means.
Losing my father was absolutely horrible, losing my mother…it solidified the fact that i will forever and always have a completely different view on death than most people. It saddens me that when i hear of someone passing away that i’m not as stunned as most, that i completely shut off emotionally and process what needs to happen. I start going through a mental check-list of who needs to know, what needs to be done, how i can help, etc.
I rarely ever process…until i’m alone, sometimes even years later {which is completely unhealthy}.
I think after hearing that i was technically, an orphan, i had a moment of complete stupidity and shut down emotionally, and since then it seems to be a habit i have.
. . .
Last night i spent some time on the phone with my Aunt Di.
We talked about my mom and her time in the hospital {she had Leukemia} and the fact that
she was never, ever, afraid of dying.
Not for a single minute. The only thing that brought her real pain was the thought of leaving my brother  & myself. Her courage was undoubtedly from God and she lived each and every day with a purpose of being intentional and encouraging in her conversations with others.
She embodied love.
. . .
Frankly…there are days when i can talk about my mom for hours and not shed a single tear. Time definitely has been kind in helping to heal some of the raw emotion from losing her (and my father). Then there are other times where just the mention of her name, or a glimpse of her picture and i become weepy. At the moment i’m on the verge of both; i’m having a hard time unclamping my emotions to allow myself a minute to cry and miss what i no longer have.
Ah…tears right?
If i’m to be honest, which is what Frankly Friday is about.
My biggest fear is:
forgetting them.
I refuse to do it, i can’t. I want to be able to one day tell my children “this is who your grandparents were, and here are their stories” and tell them time after time after time.
I’ve already begun to forget the normal day-to-day things; like a weekday night with all four of us in the house. The sound of their voices, the way their eyes would crinkle when they laughed, the stories they shared….all of those are gone.
So, my Aunt & I have decided to help remember them…to remind myself, and my brother who my parents were. Orlando (my bro) and I were so young when they died (bo was 9 when dad died, and then 12 when mom died; i was 13 & 16) that we can’t expect to remember some of the important things.
. . .
So i guess my encouragement to you today: love those you have around you.
Hold them close, memorize the little things because they will not always be there.
Don’t fear, be courageous.
<3
Miss you Mom & Dad…every minute within my heart.

{since it is Christmas time i thought i would share this older photo of them}.
. . .
Don’t forget to link up if you participated:

You are my sunshine…

I’ve got to be honest…
…today i’ve got nothing.
You know, this happens from time to time.
. . .
So i thought i would share what i did last night and hopefully catch up on answering emails/reading blogs…i’ve gotten so dang behind!
For my grandparents (mom’s parents) 55th wedding anniversary my grandmother wanted my aunts to come sing with her at a senior citizens dinner at the church. You see, my grandmother loves to sing Hymns and i’ve grown up singing them with my family…basically i love them.
There is something so beautiful about a Hymn that just resounds with reverence…now don’t get me wrong i like love a lot of the Christian music out today…but i also appreciate the traditional.  
So last night i went to support my grandmother, aunts and uncle sing a few songs for the senior citizens class. I was most definitely the youngest one there by a solid 20 years…so that was interesting.
The last song they sang was “You Are My Sunshine”. Apparently my grandparents used to sing it to their girls (4 of them including my mom) all of the time. You see, this song sometimes brings me a little sadness because they all sang to my mom right before she passed away.
So last night, before they sang, they dedicated the song to my mom.
I definitely had tears in my eyes and my heart was full of love & memories.

. . .
What songs remind you of those you love?